'The Origin of Emma and Nora' Essay

The Origin Of Emma And Nora Essay

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“The Origin of Emma And Nora” Gustave Flaubert and Henrik Ibsen are both known as great writers and harsh social critics. In fact when Flauberts masterpiece Madame Bovary was released, he was arrested on the grounds that his novel was morally and religiously offensive to the public, despite the fact that it was a bestseller. Also Henrik Ibsens “A Doll’s House” was such a slap in the face to many Europeans that it was banned in some countries and revised in Germany so that it had a happy ending. Some people in Norway even attributed the rising divorce rate to this play! What is it that drove both of these authors to be such harsh social critics? What exactly were their views? And what drove these two authors to create two of their most famous characters: Nora, from “A Dolls House”, and Emma from Madame Bovary? An insight into the background of these authors reveals that both Nora and Emma are reflections of social and political viewpoints of their authors, and are at least partially based on people that the authors knew. First of all, it is important to know the socio-economic status and background of the two authors. It is also good to at least have an idea about the society in which they lived. Then it is possible to see why they had certain viewpoints and how these viewpoints had an effect on the personalities and actions of their characters. Gustave Flaubert was born on December 12, 1821 in Rouen, France to a wealthy surgeon. As a boy he was well aware of the incompetence in the medical profession, and the middle class “lip service” which he portrayed through Homais in Madame Bovary. In his college years, Flaubert began to despise the middle class even more as he became enthralled in the romantic writings of Hugo, Rousseau, Lord Byron, and Sir Walter Scott. In Madame Bovary, Emma has a certain romantic aspect similar to Flaubert which is a longing for things to be perfect. This perfectionism was arguably an obsession for Flaubert. In fact, it took him 5 years to write Madame Bovary. I remember hearing that he even made sketches of the characters houses and of the town of Yonville. It was also in college that he fell victim to excessive romantic ideals, such as those portrayed in Emma, and had a failed marriage with an older woman named Elisa Schlesinger. His personal attitudes about love are portrayed through Emma. After his divorce, he entered into a relationship with the poet Louise Colet that was mainly based on letter writing, just as Emma’s affairs with Rodolphe and Leon rely heavily on letter writing. In fact, Flaubert and Colet only saw each other six times in their first two years. This relationship with Miss Colet shows clearly the fact that Gustave Flaubert, like Emma Bovary, liked the idea of having a lover more than actually having one. In 1844, Flaubert started to develop a nervous disorder that forced him to retire to his family’s estate. As Flaubert returned to his provincial lifestyle, he realized how boring it was. It was this boredom and isolation that shined through in Emma Bovary, who was created not only as a representation of Flauberts romantic longings, but as a universal example of a woman bored with provincial life. His intention was to create a type of character, not a specific individual, and he claimed that Emma was “suffering and weeping at this very moment in twenty villages in France”. In fact, Flaubert was once quoted as saying “Madame Bovary c’est moi”, which in French
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